Kenya is lagging behind to meet the 2020 global target to Eliminate Mother To Child Transmission (EMTCT) of Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV), according to the country’s health ministry.
Statistics released by Kenya’s National Aids and Sexually transmitted infections (STIs) Control Program, NASCOP indicates that at least 22 children acquired HIV daily from their mothers in 2018, while 12 others died daily in the East African nation due to AIDS.
The country had more than 8,000 new HIV infections.
The report also indicates that at least 10,000 HIV positive mothers and children missed life saving antiretroviral treatment.
Elimination of the transmission of HIV is ranked as one of the greatest public health achievements and as a step towards an AIDS free generation.
Until 2017, Kenya seemed on track to win the war against HIV/AIDS at least as far the Prevention of Mother to Child Transmission was concerned.
“Mother to child transmission of HIV the rate, you can see where we are 2015 we are 8.3%, 2016 6.7%, we at this point knew we would move to 5% and get validated but we have so many missed opportunities it moved to 11.5% and now we are 12.4% what that means among 100 mothers who are HIV infected 12 will transmit the virus to the children,” says Says Nascop Head, Dr. Catherine Ngugi.
For a country to be considered to have eliminated mother to child transmission, it needs to have less then 50 new infections in new born babies per 100,000 live births and a transmission of less than 5% from mothers to their breastfeeding babies.
The country also needs to have an antenatal care coverage of at least 95% with HIV and syphilis testing of pregnant women of more or equal to 95%.
During a meeting of stakeholders in the country’s health sector, the ministry admitted that it’s off the mark.
“We recognize that Kenya unfortunately is among the countries with the highest HIV prevalence globally and while we have seen a sustained HIV response, new infections amongst children, adolescents, young people remains unacceptably high,” says Principal Secretary, Kenya Susan Mochache.
So why have the mother to child transmission rates doubled in two years?
“The children got it during breastfeeding, some did not receive ART during pregnancy and then some dropped off during pregnancy when they were pregnant they did not receive ART, ” says Ngugi.
The two day meeting will come up with solutions on how the East African nation can regain its footing in the fight against HIV/AIDS.